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Automobile Politics: Ecology and Cultural Political Economy

By: M Paterson

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Jul 2007 | #168243 | ISBN-13: 9780521691307
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £23.99 $31/€27 approx
Hardback | Jul 2007 | #168242 | ISBN-13: 9780521870801
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £57.99 $76/€66 approx

About this book

The car, and the range of social and political institutions which sustain its dominance, play an important role in many of the environmental problems faced by contemporary society. But in order to understand the possibilities for moving towards sustainability and 'greening cars', it is first necessary to understand the political forces that have made cars so dominant. This book identifies these forces as a combination of political economy and cultural politics. From the early twentieth century, the car became central to the organization of capitalism and deeply embedded in individual identities, providing people with a source of value and meaning but in a way which was broadly consistent with social imperatives for mobility. Projects for sustainability to reduce the environmental impacts of cars are therefore constrained by these forces but must deal with them in order to shape and achieve their goals.

'Quite simply the definitive book on car culture and global environmental politics. Paterson convincingly explains the rise of automobility, its umbilical link to the ecological and socio-economic unsustainability of capitalist accumulation as well as outlining the powerful cultural and ideological dynamics that 'naturalise' and 'normalise' the car; while also offering strategies of resistance to the car and alternative mobility futures for car-addicted societies. Comprehensive, authoritative, scholarly and eloquently written, Paterson has set the gold standard by which other contributions to this field must be judged.' John Barry, Reader in Politics, School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy, Queen's University Belfast 'Matthew Paterson brings together political and cultural theories to develop an intricate environmental analysis of the political economy of automobiles. Scholars and students of global ecological change will not want to miss the opportunity to engage with his original and provocative conclusions.' Peter Dauvergne, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Global Environmental Politics, University of British Columbia 'This book is not just about cars. It is about a global economic system and a complex set of cultural practices that have produced the modern, mobile subject. With his characteristic creative flair, Matthew Paterson demonstrates that we need to understand how this peculiarly modern subject emerged before we can move beyond automobility and discover other forms of freedom and motion that revitalise both local communities and ecosystems.' Robyn Eckersley, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Melbourne 'Matthew Paterson has done it again, this time with a tour de force on the automobile! As in his previous works on environment and climate change, he navigates with aplomb and clarity the endless and mystifying detours associated with motor cars, those who drive them, and the societies built around them. Paterson's navigation of the automobility system should be required reading for those concerned about technology, environment and sustainability as well as in classes on democratic politics, global political economy, and international relations.' Ronnie D. Lipschutz, Professor of Politics, University of California, Santa Cruz


1. Introduction: (auto)mobility, ecology, and global politics; 2. Automobility and its discontents; 3. Don't stop movin': the pro-car backlash; 4. Automobile political economy; 5. The car's cultural politics: producing the (auto)mobile subject; 6. Swampy fever, Mondeo man; 7. Greening automobility?; 8. Conclusions'.

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Matthew Paterson is Professor of Political Science in the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa. He is the author of Understanding Global Environmental Politics: Domination, Accumulation, Resistance (2000), Energy Exporters and Climate Change (with Peter Kassler, 1997) and Global Warming and Global Politics (1996).

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